Learn To Code: 10 Free And Fantastic Online Resources To Hone Your Skills

Aaron Couch 23-08-2012

Coding. A topic that is avoided by many. Why? Probably because it seems like an impossible and unreachable goal to attain. It is a difficult skill, but if you have the purpose to learn to code, there’s no better time than now. There are an abundance of free resources and tools, all of which are available online. Sure you could take some courses on the topic at a nearby community college, and you might still want to. However, if you’re on a budget, have limited time or just simply want an additional source of quality education, these websites can be a tremendous help.


The topic of coding has been covered throughout MakeUseOf, from what languages to learn for software development Which Programming Language Should You Learn For Software Development? When starting on the path of programming, it’s important you invest your time wisely in choosing to learn something that will both benefit you in the immediate future with visible results on your platform of... Read More to teaching your kids how to code How To Teach Kids Programming From Scratch! Read More . Bottom line is, there are several great tools out there in addition to this list, but these are some of the best.

Smashing Magazine

learn to code

Smashing Magazine is a company focused on coding and web development, covering topics of techniques, individual coding languages, mobile, design, graphics and WordPress. Though it is quite well-known for it’s electronic and printed books, it also provides a plethora of information on the web.

WordPress Codex

learn how to code

Although not entirely focused on only coding, this resource provided by WordPress offers some excellent tools in the languages of HTML, CSS and others. It is possible to build your own website without any knowledge of code How To Build Your Own Website In Minutes Without Any Coding Skills As the Web grows, and it does so dazzlingly fast, the need for a web presence is becoming more pressing. In many parts of the world, you simply must have a web presence in order... Read More , however you’re likely going to want to make some tweaks and changes here and there, which is where it’s nice to know some code. Thankfully, you don’t have to know it all if you simply use this resource from WordPress.


Learn To Code: 10 Free And Fantastic Online Resources To Hone Your Skills WordPress Codex List

Mozilla Webmaker

learn how to code

Mozilla Webmaker has actually recently been featured in an article of it’s own If You Never Learnt How To Code, Try Out Mozilla Webmaker For Learning & Fun If you want to learn how the web really works, you have to know a bit about the technologies that make the magic. Web literacy is one of the skills that almost compulsory for the... Read More , by our very own MakeUseOf Editor, Saikat Basu. Here he goes into depth with all of the features, tools and resources that Mozilla provides to those striving to learn code and easily edit it.

Mozilla Developer Network

learn how to code


Another Mozilla resource is the Mozilla Developer Network, which seems like it would be advanced and hard for beginners to understand, and some of it is, but there are also parts that can be of great help and assistance. I recommend just taking a look around the site, but there are two places that I think you should be focused on and that may help you. Those are the Docs page and a page where you can learn how to make websites.

Learn To Code: 10 Free And Fantastic Online Resources To Hone Your Skills mozilla developer

Peer-to-Peer University: School of Webcraft

learn how to program

Two great things about Peer-to-Peer University is that it is free and peer-driven. Ironically, Mozilla sponsors the “webcraft” section of the site, but otherwise it is not affiliated with Mozilla. There are other non-coding related sections on the site as well, but the School of Webcraft is an excellent place to learn what’s behind the making of the web. The nice thing about P2PU is that since it’s peer-driven, you can get help from those around you along the way. If you are on the more advanced side, you can actually be a mentor to others who are less-knowledgeable and trying to learn.



learn how to program

Codecademy has become one of the most popular code-learning sites Codecademy - Hands Down The Easiest Way To Code Codecademy is a new website slash interactive programming tutorial that walks you through the basics of JavaScript. While it hasn't been around very long, the site has already been generating a lot of buzz on... Read More . It’s easy-to-use interface combined with rewards badges and understandable directions have made it a popular choice among coders of all levels. Just like P2PU, you can learn or teach, so once you have a solid understanding yourself, you can pay if forward to others who are seeking the same knowledge. Codecademy focuses on JavaScript Fundamentals, Python, Web Fundamentals and JQuery.

It also has another neat section of the site called, Code Year, which has been covered on MakeUseOf by our staff writer, Bakari. Once you go to the Code Year website, you can sign up to receive a interactive coding lesson every Monday. You can also click on the big red button titled All Courses and check out the other parts of Code Year.

Learn To Code: 10 Free And Fantastic Online Resources To Hone Your Skills Codecademy Code Year


learn how to program

If you’re a visual learner, and by that I mean you learn by watching videos, PHPAcademy will be a very beneficial addition to your coding curriculum. There are videos on practically everything, but obviously it focuses on PHP for the most part. The videos are quite thorough and because of that, they’re quite long as well, ranging anywhere from eight to twenty minutes… still shorter than your college class lecture (and likely more interesting too). Along with the link in the subtitle, here is a direct link to their many video courses organized into playlists on YouTube.

Google Code University

Learn To Code: 10 Free And Fantastic Online Resources To Hone Your Skills Google Code

This article wouldn’t be complete without Google Code University, and neither would MakeUseOf, which is why it has it’s own article on here as well Learn To Code At Any Level With Google Code University Read More . Google has created an excellent free source of knowledge that you would have to pay top dollar anywhere else. Many people who use it are likely already paying top dollar so that they can have that degree. But while they’re pursuing their degree, Google Code University can accompany what they are learning and provide more practice and education in the process. Maybe you’re one of these people, or maybe you just want to teach yourself completely on your own. For all situations, Google Code University is an awesome asset to help you learn the ropes of coding. One section I highly recommend starting at is “Google: HTML, CSS and Javascript from the Ground Up.”

W3C Wiki Page

Learn To Code: 10 Free And Fantastic Online Resources To Hone Your Skills W3C Wiki

W3C has a ton of information and as a beginner, I would not recommend trying to take everything from their site in, although it is a great resource. However, their wiki page on the other hand contains all the recent standards. Dev.Opera has a similar page, but announced in April of 2012 that it donated it to W3C to be updated by their community. This would be a tool that once you’ve gotten the basics of coding down, you start studying and understanding the web standards. Take one thing at a time, don’t take it all in at once, but I do recommend keeping this site along side the others as you gain more and more coding skills and knowledge.

learn to code

Similar to most technical industries, you never stop learning when you’re a coder. And since this is the case, it’s nice to have a community dedicated to answering questions. That is what is all about. As you go through the different courses of the sites that I’ve introduced you to, you’ll have questions. If the site has a community (most do), then it’s nice to inquire with them. But it’s also nice to just get a second opinion, or get input from a different source.


Along with this article, I recommend you check out a similar MakeUseOf article Top 5 Sites To Learn CSS Online Read More featuring five other resources to help you learn how to code. The biggest thing with these tools is to use them consistently and not psych yourself out that you can’t code before you even start. If you are even remotely interested, these sites are a much cheaper, in fact free, way of seeing if it really interests you and how good you are. But they aren’t only “testing out the waters” websites, they can be full-blown educational tools, and some even can equal the same amount of knowledge and skill that you’d get from a college degree.

Have these sites helped you in the past to learn to code? If you don’t know how, are you likely to give it a try with these resources to help you along the way?

Image Credit: Hand Writing Code via Shutterstock

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  1. osearth
    January 8, 2013 at 1:54 am

    A) I think someone (Netscape?) was trying to piggyback on JAVA's popularity when Javascript was confusingly renamed from ECMAscript.
    2) I have seen clients say Coding when referring to a process more accurately called Skinning or Templating. If you are building HTML and CSS you are designing and if you use JavaScript as well then you are also scripting.
    III) To me I think of coding as when you translate logic or perhaps info into another state, maybe like encoding as in coding an algorithm. a simple onClick with javascript: may not really be coding but more scripting. Keep in mind I think of myself as a coder and if it sounds complex i might impress fems. ;]

  2. osearth
    January 8, 2013 at 1:54 am

    A) I think someone (Netscape?) was trying to piggyback on JAVA's popularity when Javascript was confusingly renamed from ECMAscript.
    2) I have seen clients say Coding when referring to a process more accurately called Skinning or Templating. If you are building HTML and CSS you are designing and if you use JavaScript as well then you are also scripting.
    III) To me I think of coding as when you translate logic or perhaps info into another state, maybe like encoding as in coding an algorithm. a simple onClick with javascript: may not really be coding but more scripting. Keep in mind I think of myself as a coder and if it sounds complex i might impress fems. ;]

  3. dragonmouth
    November 21, 2012 at 12:07 am

    A site similar to CodeForums is Tek-Tip Forums It covers a multitude of programming/coding languages. The site is programmers helping programmers. I used the site when I was programming for a living. It may be a little advanced for those just starting out but you are definitely guaranteed to learn something.

  4. Raghav Gupta
    November 4, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Nice list

  5. bitoolean
    October 9, 2012 at 6:51 am

    I've been programming in Visual Basic (.NET) since 2002 as a hobby, otherwise I'm learning web technologies (server scripting, SQL, HTML/CSS/Javascript) for a couple of years too, and now I think I'm ready to try C++ again. I want to start the right way, so I'm reading on the latest C++ features and wxWidgets. Can you recommend an online course with practical exercises and another GUI toolkit/library to work with (preferably a modular, intuitive, cross-platform one)?

  6. Walter Gerstmann
    October 5, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Which languages work in Windows without needing runtime modules? Are they any languages which work without needing to buy its compiler?

  7. Wendy
    September 25, 2012 at 9:27 am

    I learnt C, assembler, Cobol and some others (basic skills and before windows) many years ago and visited Udacity to sign up for courses in modern languages. I was happily looking around and was going to sign up for a course when I read their terms & conditions. They will take full ownership of ALL content uploaded by users, including your submissions for exams. That puts me right off.

  8. fainom enous
    September 25, 2012 at 2:10 am

    Nice article

  9. carlyon.russell
    August 28, 2012 at 6:53 am

    Thanks for a wonderful compilation. Really appreciate it. I intend to pass this info around

  10. Teodoro Villamarzo
    August 27, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    Thanks Aaron! Before this I didn't know there were sites that give free instructions in programming.

  11. Farzan Byramji
    August 27, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Whoa! Great page. Love it.

  12. Emmanuel Olalere
    August 25, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    Soooo many choices, will try them out ASAP

  13. Paul Girardin
    August 25, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    It seems we can find something new each day!

    This old monkey keeps learning new tricks!

    Thank you

  14. Abhishek Biswas
    August 25, 2012 at 5:20 am

    Thanks.. its a very helpful article..
    i am a multimedia student and i want to learn HTML or CODING..
    but my family cant afford so much money for HTML course..
    this site and your article has helped me a lot..
    thank you so much..
    And the CODE ACADEMY is quite good, they teach you lessons like you are reading a video game instructions..

  15. Ben Mordecai
    August 25, 2012 at 3:21 am

    I'm a fan of Udacity, iTunes U, and MIT OCW.

  16. Tom Pullen
    August 25, 2012 at 2:29 am

    Udacity has a beginners course in Python, in which you would build a search engine.

  17. Shmuel Mendelsohn
    August 24, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    I programmed for 12 years, and I never knew that these sites existed. As usuak, THANKS FOR SHARING!

  18. Graham Richardson
    August 24, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    Thanks for this very useful list. I have been meaning to crack on and improve my basic html / css skills - this has given me a gentle reminder!

  19. Doc
    August 23, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    If I'm not mistaken, all of these are about designing websites with PHP, HTML, and CSS. That's not all there is to coding! I'm interested in building 3D games in C++, and was disappointed that there were no references like,,, or listed.

  20. Rigoberto Garcia
    August 23, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    Excellent collection Aaron. I have followed some lessons in Codeacademy (last, still in progress, is a course of JavaScript) and I think it's great.

  21. Nart Barileva
    August 23, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    Does anyone know a website similar to Code Academy that teaches Java. I've been trying to find one but have had no luck so far :/

    • Aaron Couch
      October 1, 2012 at 2:26 am

      I believe Code Academy does teach JavaScript in one of the later lessons.

  22. GrrGrrr
    August 23, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    Thanks, will be useful sometime

  23. Mila Kun
    August 23, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    I'm currently using codecademy. It's very helpful and thorough :)

  24. Vanja Gorgiev
    August 23, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    Code academy is nice, it does it's magic

  25. tonybac
    August 23, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    I didn't find Wibit ( in your list. But good collection nonetheless.

    • Aaron Couch
      October 1, 2012 at 2:25 am

      Thanks for sharing. The article was primarily focused on websites that could be used as tools.

      Because I don't yet own a smartphone, I haven't familiarized myself with many of the apps such as WiBit. Nonetheless, I appreciate you sharing it and hopefully some readers will see your comment and benefit!

      Thanks for reading.

  26. Aditya Roy
    August 23, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    Thanks Aaron for the information. :)

  27. Rohitmittal3003
    August 23, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    Very Helpful & Awesome Information

  28. iVad3r
    August 23, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    Great, i tried W3C a lot of times to get more code of CSS and HTML to use.

  29. lance burn
    August 23, 2012 at 11:03 am

    I have been looking for something like this for ages. thanks

  30. John
    August 23, 2012 at 10:55 am

    Since when is HTML and CSS considered programming? Or is coding and programming two different concepts?

    • Juan Carlos Espinosa Agudelo
      August 23, 2012 at 11:40 am

      Well, HTML and CSS are mostly considered Web Design, I think. Considering HTML is a language that gives websites a basic layout and CSS is a style, they can be separated a lot from what is considered 'Programming/Coding'.

      Now comes the bigger part of your question, because it's a question that drives on opinions. Are coding and programming the same?

      A lot of people say yes and won't truly care which term you use. An other lot of people will say no. I'll try to sum some of the opinions up, but I don't think I'll be the best to give an actual answer. Also, these are from my personal understanding of them:

      1. Some people say it has no difference.
      1A. Some consider coding, programming and scripting are the same. I think these people basically think something like 'It has lines of code, so it's a programming language.' and that's all there's to it.
      1B. Some say: Computers see good or bad coding, clients see good or bad programming.

      2. Some people think of it as a 'level of difficulty'.
      2A. Some will say that someone who can write Qbasic or HTML a person who can code, but a person who can write something in JAVA is an 'actual programmer'.

      3. Some think of it as entirely different, ranging from what the precise meaning is, to what both are.
      3A. Some think of coding as making 'codes and ciphers', where as with programming you're making a set/sequence of instructions for a computer(program) to read.
      3B. Some say that when you're programming, you're always coding, but when you're coding you're not always programming(basically adding to the idea in 3A, that coding can mean something completely different).
      3C. Some say that the code(source code, for example) is coding, which you can click all you want, but won't run. But when it's an actual program which you can run by clicking it, it has become programming.

      These are basically the mindsets I've seen, there may be more, but to simply answer to your question with my opinion:
      HTML is a low level programming language and CSS is a style used in HTML. I don't consider CSS actual programming or coding, but just an add-up to HTML, which could be considered very low level programming.

      • David Bobb
        August 23, 2012 at 8:17 pm

        HTML isnt a programming language, it is a markup language used to display the content on screen -- because there is no programmability -- there is no, 'if A, do X' or 'read this, process it, and have it do that', in that sense CSS is not a programming language either -- it is a code file used to determine how to style a page. Javascript and PHP are programming languages (javascript is technically a scripting language, but it can be called a programming language moreso than HTML can). HTML, CSS, C++, Visual Basic, Javascript, and even batch file or BASH scripting can all be considered 'coding' but HTML and CSS while considered 'coding' are not considered programming. Its only when you add interactive elements of things like PHP and Javascript can it even remotely be considered programming.

        • Juan Carlos Espinosa Agudelo
          August 23, 2012 at 8:28 pm

          You're 3A :)

        • Ahamdi
          October 25, 2012 at 3:05 pm

          David, thank you very much for that explanation. Coding languages like HTML and CSS work because there are programming languages behind them. No C, C++, Python, etc. working behind the scenes, no markup and styling possible.

    • Emmanuel
      August 27, 2012 at 11:31 pm

      In my experience HTML5 does borrow a few syntax from Javascript with its new features and implementation, even though html is a mark up language its used as the foundation of any webpage, web app or mobile Web app. CSS just gives you the layout, color and styling of the foundation of the webpage. Javascript gives the website, or Web app its features to do a specific function or task and other rich multimedia fictions. HTML5/CSS3/Javascript/JQuery are usually tide in together as one whole to refer as developing and programming a website or website app. Php and Myself etc is used for server side programming and database systems.

  31. VS Vishnu
    August 23, 2012 at 10:25 am


  32. Roman Vávra
    August 23, 2012 at 9:16 am

    codecademy is cool..but google university? I didnt know such website exists as Sebastian said earlier...

    my favourite page to learn something is

  33. Kaashif Haja
    August 23, 2012 at 7:37 am

    I've tried Code Academy. It's nice!!

    • Shakirah Faleh Lai
      August 23, 2012 at 8:57 pm

      Me too, I have no coding experience but Code Academy makes coding simple and easy to learn.

  34. vineedcool
    August 23, 2012 at 6:05 am

    does they all cover java progrraming too??? and also new upcoming languages such as go???

    • RoLaAus
      November 1, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      These resources seem to be geared towards web programming (though there is one reference to Visual Basic, but that seems more like an add-in along with the other web based languages).

      Java and JavaScript are actually two difference animals, and it's not just because JavaScript runs within a browser (with script enabled) and Java runs in a Java Virtual Runtime Engine. The languages are two completely separate entities.

      That is probably why Java is not mentioned in this article.

  35. Richard Steven Hack
    August 23, 2012 at 3:13 am

    Most of these sites are basically on Web site coding.

    A lot of "real programmers" might sneer at that stuff... You know, "real programmers code in C (or maybe assembly...)" :-)

    And they might be right, as I suspect a lot of Web programmers don't follow the same "best practices" that programmers in mainstream languages do.

    There was a book on learning programming years ago that used examples from other learning programming books as illustrations of BAD programming. So people need to beware. Learning the syntax of some language is NOT "learning to program". Coding is not programming and not program design.

    Real program design *is* HARD. The plethora of crappy programs in the industry and the general poor standards of usability, reliability and security prove it.

    • Juan Carlos Espinosa Agudelo
      August 23, 2012 at 11:57 am

      Even though I agree with that a lot of programmers will disagree with this being actual programming(especially CSS), this article is aimed at beginners, not advanced people. The thing beginners should do is try out various forms of programming/coding. In first year of college I had HTML, CSS, C#, Javascript and PHP.

      Most of the things we did were not advanced level in any way, so it was mostly a tiny try out, for people who have no idea on which path they want to choose.

      Also, the idea that C and C# are harder than web development, depends also on the level you're programming at. If I ask a person who just learned HTML to write me some JS or PHP without looking at some tutorial/help, he probably will have no clue on what to do. But if I give them some simple C or C# with a simple tutorial, they'll naturally be able to write it.

      I agree that learning the syntax is harder, but I also have to say, I don't consider a person who has *only* learned everything about C, an actual programmer. If he was, he would've at least tried out some other languages as well.

      Also, as a starting programmer/web developer, could you tell me what book that was? It sounds interesting.

    • Shakirah Faleh Lai
      August 23, 2012 at 9:05 pm

      Yes,real program design *is* HARD but for beginners like me who don't have any experience in coding sites like these give us a chance to learn a little bit. I'm not a programmer just a hobbyist.

    • Bleh
      October 5, 2012 at 4:09 pm

      "Real Programmers" created Internet Explorer - which gives us lowly website programmers fits.

      What was that you were saying about "Best Practices" again? :P

  36. Sebastian Hadinata
    August 23, 2012 at 2:49 am

    Nice collection of online resources. Especially Google University, I didn't know such website exists.

    CSS-Tricks is also a good website to learn more about web development.

    • Aaron Couch
      October 1, 2012 at 2:19 am

      That looks like a great resource — Thanks for sharing. I appreciate it!